Trying to Find the Future in the Past

As time has passed, I have come to the realization that I know pitifully little about Lucy. I knew her as well as anyone could. But the more I write about her, the more I realize how short is the list of things I actually know about her as a person. Her personality and her likes and dislikes were emerging more right before she died. Despite her physical delays, she was just beginning to blossom … and then it was over.

I know all of the facts about Lucy’s birth, life, illness, and death, of course. I know what she was like physically. She had big blue eyes, brown hair, my dimple in her left cheek, and my long fingers and toes. She had long legs like Chris and Max. It seemed like she was going to be tall, like them.

When it comes to actual personality traits and preferences, the list is starting to get repetitive and frustratingly short. She was loud. She had a beautiful smile and a Pee-Wee Herman laugh. She loved stacking toys, nesting cups, and her shape sorter. She was becoming interested in Elmo and “Yo Gabba Gabba”. Her favorite songs were “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “The Wheels on the Bus”. She hated riding in the car. Her favorite word was “no” and she had about 15 different ways to say it, according to her mood. Her other two words were “Daddy” and “Uhh-ma” (Mama). She loved table food, especially Chick-Fil-A French fries, and never wanted baby food, even homemade. She didn’t enjoy being read to very much. She didn’t sleep very well.

That list right there is the product of me wracking my brain to think of everything I remember about her as an individual. I’m sure there are a few things I forgot, so the list is not comprehensive. There are 19 items on that list. That’s more than I thought there would be actually. Is that list so much smaller than anyone else’s at a particular time in their life? I’m not sure.

I still feel like I did not get to know her. She died at 15 months and, while she was blossoming into a toddler, there was still much of the baby about her. I am surprised sometimes when I look at pictures and see what a big girl she actually was. I keep thinking of her as a baby.

She only said three words. Thanks to the physical delays caused by her illness, she never crawled, let alone walked unassisted. She could not tell us about herself or show us her interests as well as other children her age.

She was a physical presence, a baby, a toddler, a daughter. Most of all, she was Lucy, but what does that mean? What did being Lucy Blythe Farmer mean?

This is the frustration of every parent who has lost a very young child probably. There is not only the human potential lost, but the fact that you don’t even know what that potential was.

I want to know what she thought about life. I want to know what she thought of our family. I want to know what her favorite foods were going to be, if she was going to learn to like reading, or be athletic, or musical, or into science and computers like her dad.

Most of all, I want to know that she loved me. I never got to hear her say it. I want to know that she thought I was a good mom. I want Christmas programs and her running to me with a smile after school and art projects and all of the wonderful things we’ve gotten to experience with Max. All of the things other parents get to experience with all of their kids.

Maybe I did know her. Maybe those 19 traits were all there was to know at that time. Maybe I really do know the indefinable essence that was Lucy Blythe Farmer and the grief and lack of her physical presence make it harder to remember.

It is more that I long to still know her. I long for more. Since I can’t have more, I want to squeeze more out of the time she was here. I want to mine the past for more, since there isn’t a future with her.

Sometimes I am able to conjure up an image of how she would be now. Sometimes, I even think I catch fleeting glimpses of her or still feel her presence in the night. But it is the Lucy of the past with the same 19 traits or traits I have seen in children of the age she would be now superimposed on her image. It’s not really the Lucy she would have been now. It’s a shadow, a projection, the product of a mother’s desperate longing for what she should have, but can’t.

All of these apparitions are a poor substitute, but a comfort, especially when I feel like perhaps I am feeling her actual spirit with me. That does not happen nearly as often as it used to. I’m not sure why.

However, I’ve ended up at a different place than I thought I was going to with this post. I suppose I did know Lucy. She was only 15 months old. There was only so much to know. So much was still locked inside of her. There wasn’t more to know at the time, but there was going to be. We can only surmise what it would have been.

The problem actually isn’t that I didn’t know her. It’s that I still want the future. I guess it’s easier to blame myself for not knowing her well enough during her life than to fully accept that I am just never going to know more.

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1 Comment

  1. Jerry said,

    January 25, 2014 at 1:23 am

    LOVE U SIS and ill tell u this hell yes she loved u and all of u. She had bigger and brighter things to do. Thats why God gave her her wings and took her home. She watches over all of us and thats awesome


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